In a small, wooded area behind Columbia Park Elementary, off Pearkes Drive, flowers are scattered on the ground and in the trees. Several notes have been placed on the ground and ‘R.I.P. Jake’ is written out in sticks.
The memorial is for Jake Gericke, the nine-year-old Revelstoke boy who died following a tragic biking incident in Columbia Park last Monday afternoon.
On one sheet of paper, his friends wrote out their memories of Jake. “Jake Gericke was…” the card reads:
– “A great guy with a good sense of humour.”
– “A fun and terific (sic) guy. I will cherish his memory 4ever.”
“Jake was the most genuine person,” said Jannica Hoskins, a close family friend who helped take care of Jake. “He loved everybody and he just really thought that if he gave out that love it would come back to him. But he didn’t do it for that reason, he did it because he so full of love.”
According to Barb Mukanik, another family friend, Jake crashed after going off a jump in a wooded area off Pearkes Drive. The handlebar of his bicycle punctured his liver. His friends found him about 15 minutes after he got hurt.
He was airlifted to hospital in Kamloops before being taken to Vancouver Children’s Hospital. He died there at around 4 a.m. Tuesday morning.
“This sounds like nothing more than a tragic accident from what I’m understanding,” said staff Sgt. Jacquie Olsen of the Revelstoke RCMP.
Jake’s death was greeted with an outpouring of grief and several hundred people attended his funeral on Saturday at the Alliance Church.
Gericke’s death is the latest in a string of young lives lost in Revelstoke this year. In the spring, Derrick Smith, 19, died suddenly. Then in August, Daniel Levesque, 20, died in an alleged murder. Earlier this month, Neil Martin, 25, died in a hiking accident.
Almost immediately after his death, a trust fund was set up at the Revelstoke TD bank in his name. Simply give the clerk his name if you would like to contribute. As well, on Saturday, Sangha Bean hosted a silent auction and donated 10 per cent of all sales to the fund. The community centre said it would be donating all of September’s towel rental receipts to the fund.
There is also a memorial Facebook group titled ‘Jake Gericke Memorial Fund’ that had more than 50 members as of Saturday night.
According to Hoskins, Jake was a caring person who was patient with his friendships, someone who had a mischievous side but was always full of love.
“At nine-years old, we would be the first kid to run up behind you and give you a big hug and then ask for a kiss on the lips,” said Hoskins. He would do it genuinely, as a way to share his love.
“He was his own person and that sticks out in my mind the most.”
His mother Helen Brum posted the following message on Facebook: “To everyone that has sent messages, condolences, put me in your prayers and thoughts, I am forever thankful and so very grateful. I am so thankful that my Jake touched so many lives. He truly is and was an angel.”
A student at Columbia Park Elementary, his hobbies included karate, soccer, biking and skiing. He was also very proud of his Metis heritage, said Hoskins, and was once asked to carry the flag for the Metis dance troupe at a Heritage Day ceremony.
“He was never afraid to be who he was and he was proud of that and that’s why everybody loves Jake,” she said.